Red Trillium

A couple of my eFriends asked about the Red Trillium pictures I’ve been posting on Flickr.  I didn’t have ready answers, so I looked up a few tidbits and here they are.

Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

There are many species of trillium – a spring wildflower in the lily family.  They come in many colors – red, white, yellow, dark purple, and a sort of greenish-yellow.  I found accounts for three species that are this dark burgandy red, only one that grows where I live.  (There may be more red ones in other parts of the country – or the world, but this morning, in my quick research, I found just three.)

This variety, Red Trillium (Trillium erectum), also goes by the names “Stinking Benjamin” because of its unpleasant odor and “Bethroot” – reportedly a corruption of “Birth Root” because it was used as an aid in childbirth.  I found two range maps.

USDA Range Map for Red Range Map for Red Trillium

The map on the left is from the USDA Plant database – a very nice place to get information about all kinds of plants.  If you click on the map, you will go to their account of the Red Trillium.  I don’t like the USDA maps so much, because if even one plant is reported anywhere in a state, the entire state gets colored green.  Trillium BacklitThat can be a little misleading at times.  The map on the right is from a website referenced on the USDA site – a place called – again, click the map to go there.  Their write-up isn’t as pretty as the USDA, but I like the map better.

The other deep red trillium that I found referenced are Wakerobin (Trillium vaseyi) and Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum).  Click on their names here to see their very small ranges on the eFloras range maps.

So, Adam and Sue – there you have it.  Thanks for asking.  I learned something, too.

Keep on learning!

P.S. (5/9/07) I found another one yesterday that makes me see why another common name is “Purple Trillium”.  I think the color changes as the individual flower gets older:

Purple Trilliium

5 thoughts on “Red Trillium

  1. And here I always thought that Wakerobin was just another name for the Red Trillium. I’m glad that us armchair naturalist can just come here to find out new things 😉 I have been disappointed in my trillium searches so far. All of what I had found on Monday didn’t even have buds yet. Behind the plant is a new area for me though, and I am not sure what type of trillium I am looking at yet. How about a write up on the different blooming times of trillium? Better yet talk about the other trilliums we do have, like my favorite, the painted. You know it’s just another excuse to try out that 300mm burning a hole in your pocket!

  2. Thanks for the write-up, Jennifer! I daresay your Red Trillium is prettier than any of the 3 we get out west, although we do have Sweet Trillium, which smells wonderful.

    Jeremy, beware the common names of plants, as there lies the way of confusion! The Western Trillium (Trililum ovatum) is also called (Western) Wakerobin. Nevermind the many species called “Forget-me-not” and “Hound’s Tongue.

    That’s one thing I prefer about birding – there’s only one common name for any given bird (in the US anyways)!

  3. Pingback: Trillium - Red and White « A Passion for Nature

  4. I came across your blog while looking for results on Red Trillium that also has red leaves. Have you come across any information on these? I seem to be hitting constant dead ends. Thanks!

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